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Ways to Open a Travel Agency

images-4The job of a travel agent is to interact with people and sell trips and holiday packages to them. If this sounds interesting and exciting to you, then you are fit for this role. You may be already working in such a company, but the thought of starting your own business may have crossed your mind several times. One can either rent a place to set it up or begin from his home itself. However, an important point to remember is that like any other business, starting a travel agency is not an easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and planning to run it successfully.

Before starting it, the most important thing to do is to research about the current market status, the options available to you, etc. The initial steps must be taken with great care and planning, as there have been many such agencies that had to be closed down because of wrong decisions from the beginning.

First and foremost, inquire about the laws that the government of your country has set for the travel industry in general. You will have to gain a suitable license to begin. It is also necessary to join a trade association, because only then you will be considered as a serious travel agent. As an independent service provider, you will have to work with a tour operator or host agency. Before selecting a tour operator, you have to research well about the various options you have, and choose the one that you think would be the best for you. One has to make his own decisions and policies for his agency, rather than relying on other agents because what may have worked for them may not work for everyone. If you have rented a place for this business, you will need some people to work for you. It would be beneficial to recruit people who have some experience in this field.

Advertising is very important for people to know about a new business. Initially, you may sell packages to your close friends and relatives. They would spread the word to others, and consequently over time, you will have good business coming in. You may not be able to give high discount rates to customers initially, but excellence in your service skills will help you to gain some loyal customers. To advertise this initiative, you can also give ads in newspapers, Internet, etc.

The income you earn from your agency comes from the commission you get from the holiday packages that you sell. You have to negotiate well with your tour operator for a good commission and also good discount rates on holiday packages for you and your staff. In the beginning, the income you receive may not be much, but as your business grows, so will your income.

If you are planning to start a home-based agency, you can also opt to become a referral agent. This job is much easier than that of the booking and selling agent because he only has to guide the customers to other travel agencies or tour operators. For this, he gets a commission from the tour operator, though it is not as much as that of the latter.

Before you begin your independent business, you must remember that you are responsible for every decision that you make. The success as well as failure of your agency solely depends on you.

Ways to Starting a Travel Agency Business

There are a number of travel agencies in the world today. Unlike a few years back, you can now directly book tickets at discounted rates from dedicated booking websites. The Internet has further improved the way people want to travel. Due to all these changes, today, people expect different things from a travel agency. You don’t only have to stand out among other agencies, but also serve people with a difference. Through these tips, we’ll tell you what you can do to survive without many financial blows in the first few months, how you can get noticed among all the other players, and on what idea you can sustain your reputation for a longer period of time.

Before you Begin: The Prerequisites

Decide the services you want to provide.
A travel agency provides a lot of services such as consultation, ticketing, bookings, insurances, visa procurement, etc. However, it’s perfectly alright to provide just a few at the very beginning. If you have experience of working in this industry, and have a good team to back you up, you can consider providing as many services as you want. Also, know that customers prefer getting all their work done from a single stop; it is thus better to cater to as many requirements as possible.

Make a list of things you need for all the legal procedures.
The first thing you need to do is think of a name for your agency and patent it. The next step is to register your company. Every state has its own laws; you will get a list of required documents, along with details of the procedure, through the Internet. Once your company is registered, you can open bank accounts in its name. If you are going to rent a place, get in touch with a broker. If you don’t want to pay the commission, you need to look for places yourself. Then comes the list of services you need to offer. Each of these is going to need some sort of streamlining; do it before you open up for business.

Look for competitors and conduct a study on them.
Competition can benefit you if you research it, while it can scar you if you take it for granted. Look for competitors and try to understand their business module. Make a list of services each competitor is providing and his USP. This will help you in finding your USP. It might also help you in choosing your location; preferably an area that doesn’t have a travel agency. Once you know what is being offered by other agencies, you can offer something that is different.

Spend a good deal of time and money on marketing and advertising.
Don’t hold back on advertising―it is the only way you’re going to reach out to potential customers, who are going to get you the money. Device a good marketing strategy and back it up with creative advertising. Use social media to your advantage. Don’t just share things that come to your mind, but draft campaigns that people will tend to follow. Engaging your customers through advertising should be your main aim.

Tie-up with multiple partners for more discounts.
A lot of your work is going to be done with the help of other people. Contacts in airlines, for visa formalities, and for discounted rates in hotels are very important. Start building these as soon as possible. These tie-ups will help you offer multiple discounts, which in turn will help you provide better rates. Always file everyone’s contact information. In case your usual agent for visas is sick or on a long leave, you can immediately get in touch with someone else.

Ways to Choose The Right Travel Tour Company

Most independent travelers skip travel tour companies. However, they can come in quite handy on several occasions. At some point, travelers need to seek help from a travel company. Organized trips are better than not having any organization at all, whether you will travel for a couple of days or for a few weeks. They are hard to avoid, and these days, they are everywhere.

Travel companies have become a staple of travelers because they offer flexible rates alongside affordable prices. But be sure to know how to select the right travel company before you settle for a particular company. These travel tours can help first-time travelers on their way to experience the best holiday they have had in a while. If you decide to visit a particular place, then make sure to know the things to look for when selecting a good tour company.

Tips To Selecting A Good Travel Company

•    Cost – Perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a travel company is the cost. You must know that travel companies do not always stay true to the saying that “you get what you pay for”. Tour companies today tend to overcharge their clients who know little about the rates. You must ask the breakdown of where your money went. Likewise, ask if you will pay extra fees when you arrive at your travel destination.

•    Reputation – Always look for a travel company with a great reputation. Check the reputation first before you choose a particular travel company. The biggest companies might not have the best reputations. There are times when the upstart  travel companies can totally offer a good service to you. Also, find out what the past customers say about travel companies.

•    Safety – Safety is of paramount importance, so make sure that your chosen travel company follows all the right safety requirements, and has an accreditation by your government. This ensures that your safety will be protected.

•    Guides – A travel company must offer local tour guides that are knowledgeable about the place. They must likewise know the history of the place, as well as the life-saving methods if in case there’s a problem regarding health.

•    Market – Make sure to know the target market of the travel company. Travel boards can help you. If the travel company caters to a specific group age, then make sure that you belong to that bracket. You do not want to be included in a travel tour for elderlies when you are a teenager.

Always remember these tips when you choose a particular travel company. These will surely help you have the best travel experience.

Travel Trailer Insurance Tips for You

So you have bought an expensive travel trailer and are now worried about its safety, right? Happens! Humans usually indulge first and then think later – that’s human mentality. However, there are a lot of options for getting insurance and most of them would be quite suitable to you. You need to be vigilant, and make sure that you are getting what you bargained for. It is quite a cliché to say that you have to minutely read the fine print, but there it goes – YOU HAVE TO MINUTELY READ THE FINE PRINT! There is no way you can ensure you are getting what you want without that.

Now, here are some of the things you need to keep your eyes peeled for:-

Tip # 1- Check What Coverage You Are Getting
Make doubly sure what your insurance will cover you for. These are the least types of coverage that you must get:-

  • Losses due to accidents and collisions
  • Destruction or damage due to fire and related perils
  • Losses due to natural calamities such as hurricanes, floods, landslides, hails, storms, lightning, etc.
  • Damage done due to animals
  • Damage done due to vandalism
  • Damage done due to unavoidable roadside perils such as low hanging branches and bad road conditions
  • Loss due to theft

Bad faith is not unheard of in the claims. Hence, it is important that you make sure everything you want is specified clearly.

Tip # 2- Check the Emergency Expenses Coverage
Most policies must cover for the unexpected expenses that you might have to incur if your trailer broke down on the way. There are many such expenses that might happen, such as you might have to spend a night in a motel, you might have to pay extra for towing the trailer or making repairs, etc. If you want coverage in such situations, check that the documentation explicitly mentions that.

Tip # 3- Check for Fixtures Coverage
Do you have expensive gear affixed on your trailer? Your policy should, by default, cover for the permanent fixtures that came with the vehicle, but if you have done any additions later, see how you can cover them with the policy. You might have expensive awnings or even drapes on your travel trailer windows. Or there might be some antennas and satellite dishes you have connected. Such peripheral accessories can be covered for, but only if you specifically mention them. You might have to pay extra premium on that, but if you are traveling a lot in unknown places, you might as well equip yourself against their losses.

Tip # 4- Check for Parked Trailer Coverage
This coverage is different from the coverage you can get when the trailer is moving. In case your vehicle is parked at a campsite or any other such place and you are using it as a temporary residence, you will get a different kind of coverage during those times. Be aware of that, and speak with the policy representatives about it.

Tip # 5- Check for Distance Conditions
All these policies have some restrictions about the claims they will pay depending on the distance of the trailer from the permanent residence of the person. Some policies will have more coverage if the damage or loss is afflicted out of a particular area, which is mostly about 50 miles away from home in any direction. Check out what the policy conditions are based on these distance restrictions. See whether they will pay at all if the damage is done much closer to home. If not, you better look for some other policy.

Tip # 6- Check for Other Miscellaneous Terms and Conditions
Like all other policies, travel insurance policies also have a very long list of yeses and nos when it comes to paying out the claims. Some policies would be applicable only if the damage was done when the trailer is moving, while some will cover damages occurred when parked. Such policies are called full-timer policies, and even if they are dearer on the premiums, they are the wiser choice to take. You cannot imagine how many dangers lurk for your trailer in your own neighborhood. Take vandalism for instance. Make sure you cover your precious trailer for every moment that it is with you.

The final point that needs to be made is that you should go for travel trailer coverage only from people who are experienced. Check out some references and do an online search on their reputations. Most vendors of housing, car, and other types of insurances may not be quite adept at managing these insurances, because this is entirely a different ballgame. See that you do not end up with the short end of the stick with a company that doesn’t know what it is actually in the business for.

Ways to Navigate Airports Successfully

Everyone knows that just making your flight reservation is the easy part; if anything can go wrong to give you travel headaches, it probably will. Anyone who’s flown more than once can probably tell you at least one tale of a delayed flight, lost luggage, missing tickets, unpleasant fellow passengers, or any number of travel woes. But as long as you prepare for them ahead of time, problems can be quick and easy to handle.

Before you even leave home to head to the airport, brush up on the rules of the sky. Every airport and every airline have different rules governing flights, from check-in procedures to baggage check, security, and everything in between. These rules are called ‘Conditions of Carriage’, and for most airlines, they are spelled out in fine print. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, ticket requirements have been much tighter and rules are less flexible; be sure to read all the fine print so you have a basic understanding of the rules.

Arrive early at the airport. For domestic check-in, you should allow at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to leave. For international flights, better give yourself at least two and a half hours. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are the busiest times of the day, and Mondays and Fridays are the busiest weekdays, so keep that in mind when you schedule your flights as well as when you plan what time to arrive at the airport.

Be nice to security personnel and airline staff. Security officers are there to protect you and make sure you arrive at your destination safe and sound. Although security measures in our post 9/11 society are stricter than ever, and some are continually changing, they are in place to protect you, not to annoy you. The more patient and friendly you are when going through security checkpoints, the easier the process will be.

Counter staff and flight attendants do the same job day in and day out, and they are used to dealing with irate and irritated travelers. But that doesn’t mean they should have to. Don’t yell, lose your temper, or take out your frustrations on airline staff if a problem crops up that might affect your trip. You are far more likely to get things back on track without a hitch if you are nice and understanding. The saying ‘you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’ applies perfectly when dealing with airline personnel, especially when there are a lot of other travelers who are also upset.

If it has a sharp edge or sloshes, don’t try to carry it on the plane. Most sharp objects―even some types of pens and pencils―are not allowed on your person or in carry-on luggage. If you want to bring along a Swiss Army knife, cork screw, cigar cutter, crochet needles, a screwdriver, razor blades, or anything with an edge or point, be sure to put it in your checked baggage if you want to keep it. Otherwise it may be confiscated by security during check-in.

Know your rights. Years ago, before airline deregulation in 1978, every airline was required by law to establish their own individual Rule 240, which details what the airline will do when a problem arises within their control that causes passengers to be late or stranded. If mechanical problems or staff conflicts prevent you from reaching your destination on time, for instance, remember to ask for Rule 240 to be applied to your trip. These policies may give you free hotel accommodations, free meals, phone calls, and other amenities to help make up for your troubles. You may be booked on a substitute flight, have your seat assignment upgraded, or even be compensated or given a refund if the airline cannot fix the problem. Rule 240 does not apply, however, when problems occur that are outside the control of the airline, such as bad weather, strikes, or acts of God.

Bring along plenty of things to keep you occupied while you wait. Because you will have to spend at least some time sitting and waiting in the airport, you should plan to have something to do. If you’re on business, you can bring along work to do. If you’re on vacation, bring a laptop computer to do personal business on or play games. Bring books on tape, newspapers or magazines, or an iPod to listen to music while you wait. If you are traveling with family or friends, you can get something to eat or drink and just talk for a while. Without the sterile and impersonal cocoon of e-mail to hamper you, you might actually enjoy the back-and-forth conversation.

Most of all, relax! Although this is probably the most essential thing to remember to have a successful flight, it is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Remember that there are many things that can happen that are simply out of anyone’s control. Weather can be unpredictable, mechanical components fail, and people are only human and, therefore, make mistakes. When Murphy’s law attacks with a vengeance, just stop, take a deep breath, and relax. The world will keep turning, whatever has gone wrong will get fixed, and you can continue on your journey with a smile on your face.

Best Places for Hot Air Balloon Rides

download-10Flying high in an endless sea of clouds, one amongst the birds, with a cool breeze brushing past you, the occasional gust of wind playing through your hair, raw and pleasant sun-rays gently settling upon your body, and your eyes wandering off as far as they can see, with nothing to obstruct your view… If this is not what being on top of the world means, then what does? This was only but a brief description of what you feel and experience when you are riding in a hot air balloon. It is almost as if you are weightless, drifting along with the wind in extreme silence, except the occasional fire bursts inside the balloon. The feeling is surreal, one of a kind, nothing short of what would feel like magic.

The whole point of taking a trip to the skies on a hot air balloon is to get a bird’s-eye view of the scenic locales, lush landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and rivers snaking through the valleys. You will appreciate the sunrise/sunset (depending on the time of day when you take the trip) in a totally different light after you have witnessed one during your flight. The world is aplenty with beauty, and there are many places that are just apt for flying in a hot air balloon. Here are some of the most amazing places that guarantee breathtaking views from a hot air balloon. Take your pick and get packing already!

Describing and reading about it, is only feeling a fraction of what it actually feels like. It can only feel as beautiful as one’s imagination is. Actually, being afloat on a hot air balloon is the only thing that wholly justifies its awesomeness and the magic that it creates.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, also known as the ‘Adventure Capital of The World’, is a resort town in Otago, New Zealand. It is cozily settled on the banks of Queenstown Bay, an inlet on Lake Wakatipu. The snow-covered mountain tops, the serenity of Lake Wakatipu, the lush greenery bordering the lake, and the vast blue skies, all form part of a beautiful view, which leaves you speechless and breathless. It gets infinitely better when this view is enjoyed from atop a hot air balloon. No wonder it was an inspiration for Peter Jackson to direct his Lord of the Rings movie series with this dainty and picturesque town as the backdrop.
Don’t Miss:
Apart from hot air balloon rides, the added attractions that Queenstown has to offer are skiing, sky diving, bungee jumping, paragliding, and some other land and river adventures. For those interested in spending quiet, quality time, you can take part in events that involve art, culture, history, wine tasting, nature and sightseeing around town.

Cappadocia, Turkey

The Cappadocian region that comprises steep hills, rugged and profound valleys, conspicuous canyons and magnificent rock formations, is settled in Central Anatolia, Turkey. Hot air balloon rides are the best way to experience one of nature’s self-created, most amazing cities of Cappadocia. It is a popular tourist attraction in Göreme. It is an experience within an experience to noiselessly glide over this imperial stretch of the city, and watch the enormity of the rocks, houses carved within rocks, ancient churches caved within huge monolithic rocks, set against a bold backdrop volcanic landscape. Be fascinated by tiny pigeonholes hewn within the monumental rocks, infinite fairy chimneys strewn across the region, vineyards that form a part of fertile valleys and orchards that add a pop of bright colors to the scene, lighting up your day.
Don’t Miss:
When viewed from above, it looks as if you are flying over the moon, literally! The landscape of the Cappadocian region appears very moon-like. Also, the underground cities formed here are a major attraction.

Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Bagan is an area in Central Myanmar, famous for being home to the largest number of Buddhist temples, ruins, pagodas and stupas. Nestled on the banks of the river Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy), engulfed by a dense cover of lush greenery, this region is a beautiful combination of raw nature, ancient culture, rich heritage, serene spirituality, and a touch of modern architecture. Such a combination lends it a distinct aura and mentally appeals any tourist.

Riding in a hot air balloon over the scenic beauty of Bagan, will only make you realize how the grandness of the heritage, the calmness surrounding you and the magic unfolding in front of your eyes, could make it the adventure of your lifetime.
Don’t Miss:
Few know that Marco Polo described Bagan as ‘one of the finest sights in the world’. As the sun rises over the horizon, the tombs of temples and stupas and the Bagan pagodas form outstanding silhouettes against the reddish-pink hue of the morning sky. Spread over an area of 16 square miles, the entire landscape is dotted by at least 5000 architectural structures, historical ruins, religious temples, pagodas, and stupas. Look as far as you can, and not once will the view disappoint you.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Nestled cozily in the village of Saanenland, Gstaad steals the show with its unspoilt snow-capped Swiss Alps, lush green landscapes, modern art and culture, contrasting ancient historical heritage, exotic dining options, and conventional shopping centers. Gstaad is known for being a traffic-free center, shadowed by tranquility and peace so surreal that it feels like heaven on Earth. As if this wasn’t enough, a hot air balloon ride over the ice-crowned, and heaven-reaching alpines, will leave you awestruck and make you put your life in a perspective or two. The dewy grass-filled highlands, tiny wooden houses dotting the steep mountain slopes, and the snow-covered white mountain tops glistening like jewels on a crown in the morning sun, all form a spectacle that is visually enthralling and just sweeps you off your feet.

Gstaad’s prodigious micro-climate and exceptional flying conditions is the icing on the cake, which makes it an ideal location for hot air ballooning.
Don’t Miss:
Every year, in the last week of January, during the International Balloon Festival in Chateau d’Oex, the Gstaad sky is filled with tons of bright and bold-colored balloons, that loom overhead and create a visual spectacle in itself. Also, the village livens up during the winter when its annual winter sport festival is scheduled. So, ideally, winter would be the best time to visit Gstaad, so that, along with hot air ballooning, you get to experience other characteristic events too.

Istria, Croatia

Istria is the largest peninsular region in the Adriatic Sea. It is a part of three countries: Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Istria is surrounded by deep blue seas, enigmatic green hills that roll out into eternity, architecture that explains ancient Russian culture and heritage beautifully. All this enveloped in the perfect continental, Mediterranean climate, makes Croatia the best place to unwind yourself and get back to life with a fresh perspective, if you are looking for one. The hot air balloon rides here are a treat for the eyes, your body, your mind, and your soul. You cannot help, but be in awe of Istria’s spellbinding beauty and magnificence. Whether it’s an early morning dawn flight, or a late evening dusk flight, hot air balloon rides over this wonderful piece of Earth will leave you breathless, and asking for more.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Welcome to the largest city in New Mexico, America. A city where hot air ballooning is taken so seriously, that a hot air balloon festival is celebrated with utter enthusiasm and pomp, every year! The ‘Cosmic Carnival’, an annual event that takes place in October at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, is the largest hot air balloon event in the world. It is a sight that will blow your mind. Hundreds of balloons rise up in the air, gliding effortlessly, illuminating the sky with thousands of colors and the minds of the spectators with pure ecstasy and joy.

Don’t Miss:
The Sandia mountains that border the eastern side of Albuquerque are something that should be enjoyed from a hot air balloon. They appear reddish in color and are hence, believed to be named Sandia, which is Spanish for watermelon. Laid against the sky’s gentle blue backdrop, the Sandia crest is an amazing natural creation, formed due to uplifting. As the balloon glides past the entire dimension of the mountain range, observe that the western face is extremely rocky, whereas it slopes gently on the east.

The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti was first discovered by Stewart Edward White. This national park is spread over a straggling 5700 square miles. Its name comes from the term siringet, which means ‘the place where the land runs forever’. The hot air balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park, gives you a chance to look at forests, landscapes, sunrise and sunset, wildlife, and nature from a completely different and fresh perspective. The balloon rises with the rising sun, and floats where the wind takes it. Regarding wildlife spotting, it would be better to go on a hot balloon safari with an open mind, sans any preconceived notions. After all, it is better to be surprised than be disappointed. On a lucky day, which is most of the days, you can spot one or more kind of wildlife that includes hippos, lions, hyenas, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, antelopes, giraffes, various exotic birds, and also the varied plant life that includes the gorgeous acacia trees.

Don’t Miss:
A secret tip – The best time to go hot air ballooning in the Serengeti is when The Great Wildebeest Migration happens (October to August). Hundreds of thousands of zebras and wildebeests migrate from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya. An awe-inspiring spectacle, the great migration is a sight that is sure to send a shiver down your spine. It should definitely not be missed while hot air ballooning in the Serengeti.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, also known as the ‘Red Rock Country’, is a dainty little city set in the northern region of the US state of Arizona. Set against a massive, rocky backdrop of reddish brown mountains and monoliths, Sedona is famous for being a place where there is something for everyone. It entertains a tourist’s spiritual, historical, contemporary, and even adventurous interests. There will be no time left for you to get bored here.

Hot air ballooning over the picturesque Sedona presents a view in front of you so beautiful, that it leaves you enchanted by the beauty of Mother Nature. The changing color of the rocks, with the change in the intensity of the sun’s rays, is a spectacle that leaves you awestruck. Just sit back and relax in the cozy balloon basket, as you gently rise off the ground along with the rising sun, feeling as light as a feather, as tranquil as the silence of the night, and as excited as a little child, all at the same time. Enjoy the breathtaking view that presents a sharp contrast of green trees against the red rocks, with the river snaking through, to provide a mildness to the contrast.
Don’t Miss:
As you fly over the Arizonian landscape, make sure you get a good look of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Vortex Schmortex, and the Oak Creek Canyon, amongst other stand-outs. Hot air balloon rides offer a mesmerizing panoramic view of the entire expanse.

Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America within the boundaries of The United States of America. Hot air ballooning over the sparkling shores of Lake Champlain can be dubbed as the experience of a lifetime. The thrill experienced while the balloon drifts leisurely over the cool and glossy waters is unmatched with anything. Plush landscapes, embellished with the greenery of Green Mountains, border the shores of Lake Champlain for as far as your eyes can see. Keep all worries aside for sometime and dedicate this trip to yourself, cleanse your soul, love yourself, feel happy and allow the scenic beauty of Vermont to sink in as you look at vast fields, looming mountains, fully bloomed trees, and the clear waters. On a lucky day, when the skies are clear and cloudless, you will be able to see as far as Canada and Montreal.
Don’t Miss:
It’s the little things that matter the most. Whilst flying over the countryside, and not very high, you can actually get whiffs of smokes from houses that pass by beneath you during the flight. You might get the aroma of cooking! Also, when flying at tree-top level over the forests, you will sometimes be able to spot beautiful wildlife like turkeys and deer.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

The timelessness, endlessness, vastness, magnificence, mystique and silence of Wadi Rum is sure to stun you to the core, leaving you breathless, a tinge of humbleness and insignificance hovering about you. Wadi Rum has been declared the most stunning, gorgeous, and engaging desertscape there ever was. Also known as ‘The Valley of The Moon’, Wadi Rum, located at the south of Jordan, is actually a continued series of valleys which are approximately 2 km wide, and are sprawled for about 130 km N-S. It covers almost 720 km of desert area, with enormous sandstone mountains and huge granite rocks jutting out from the sand shores.

Gliding through the crisp desert air in a hot air balloon over the eternal sands of Wadi Rum, you feel a certain calm reside over you. The shifting positions of the sun create an effect that feels as if the mountain rocks and the sand change colors throughout the day. This effect tends to arise myriad moods within you and make you ponder over the mystery that life is. You cannot come to Jordan and not go to Wadi Rum; it is a must-visit.
Don’t Miss:
The Burdah Rock Bridge, standing 35 m tall above the ground, is considered to be one of the highest natural arches in the world. Naturally-formed huge monolithic rock structures, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Bedouin camping, the sunrise and sunset in the desert, and many other wonderful, captivating sights are some things that will keep you engaged whilst you lose track of time, sense and other worldly cares.

Napa Valley, California

Dubbed as one of the premier wine regions of the world, Napa Valley is an American Viticulture Area in California, United States. Its most famous attractions are the closely knit vineyards spread across acres of land. When viewed from a hot air balloon, the vineyards seem like one huge sprawling stretch of a lush-green grass blanket. Panoramic view that encompass the magnificent rolling hills and valleys, and gorgeous hues and colors of the sky merging during the setting or rising of the sun, are a feast for your eyes. You couldn’t agree more that very few places on Earth take you into a trance and make you wonder, “Is this what Heaven is like?”
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There is something for everyone here. Based on your interests, you can go wine tasting, fine dining, spa hopping, hot air ballooning or just sit back, relax and soak in the striking beauty and calmness of the valley.

The Outback, Australia

The Outback is a desiccated, dry and arid desert region on the outskirts of the Australian subcontinent. It is also known as ‘Never-Never’, ‘back of beyond’, or ‘back o’Burke’. Owing to the typical climatic conditions, which are unsuitable for the survival of life, this region is extremely thinly populated. It does, however, boast of a wide variety of wildlife such as dingoes, emus and red kangaroos. Hot air balloon rides in The Australian Outback, allow tourists to observe the wildlife at its best, and appreciate the greatness and immensity of the Outback. You can opt for either the dawn or the dusk flights. Night flights are mesmerizing, as the Outback night sky is the best place to stargaze, and get the best possible and uninterrupted views of endless seas of stars, constellations and even some planets. If you are lucky and your flight takes off at the scheduled time, you even get to experience the Australian Outback sunset – a delicate yet empowering and harmonious melange of soft, beautiful, and unexplained colors over the horizon.

A dawn flight is just as much enjoyable and delightful. It starts with the balloon taking flight just as the sun starts to rise. As the balloon rises higher and higher, you can see silhouettes forming against a backdrop of the brightest and boldest of sunrises, which fills up the morning sky with shades and hues of the colors of the sun.
Don’t Miss:
The Outback is the only place in the world that has the largest fossilized dinosaur stampede. Hundreds of thousands of dinosaur footprints have been immortalized in mud stone near Lark Quarry. These can be clearly observed from your hot air balloon. Also, you might just come across the original and traditional Australian Aborigines, who still continue to live by the ancient ways of life. Many cattle stations (some as big as Belgium itself!) are something that cannot be missed and are a great sight to watch from the balloon.
Riding on a hot air balloon makes it to almost everybody’s bucket list. But, striking the activity that you have wanted to do all your life off the list by doing it at the right place, that is the trick. This isn’t something that you do everyday, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The adventure that you are ready to embark on, is going to make a memory that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is important that you create the best memory possible. A memory which is capable of making you relive the experience, a memory at which you will look back in fondness, happiness, ecstasy, and pure joy.

Ways to Find the Right Travel Agent

download-9In today’s Hi- Tech world, we have easy access to all kinds of information. We’re able to research, compare, and book travel right in the comfort of our own home. But the question arises – Who needs a travel agent anymore?

Fewer of us do, apparently. In last one decade the travel agents statistics had fallen by about 30%.

“They are an outdated remnant of past practices that add virtually no value to any transaction today,” says one of the employee working for Michigan airlines. After my recent recommendations of travel agent in various columns, I’ve been on the receiving end of the feedback – How could i..?.

So, here let me discuss about this common query. I believe that travel agents today still offer services and information that we can’t get on Internet. Granted, some things such as booking a simple flights, most people can successfully manage on their own. A travel agent however, can recommend smaller, alternative airports that the discount carriers use. This alone can save you quite a bit of money. However, the key thing that travel agents today offer is their first hand knowledge and right information. In planning a trip or vacation, one wants to find information about the places and regions suitable to them. Here the role of a travel agent comes into act considering the fact that they have traveled to many different places, they can provide much more insight than a brochure or web page can. Thus, finding the right travel agent is inevitable. The same thing goes for tours and specialty travel such as luxury, adventure, villa rentals, etc. A competent travel adviser can be your greatest asset when you’re planning a trip. The key word here is “competent.” And let me also define what I mean by agent: I’m not necessarily talking about an offshore call center worker reading from a script or a hobbyist who paid a few hundred bucks for bogus agency credentials. I mean a bona fide, certified travel professional. Once you decide to book a trip through an agent you must go through few quality check of an agent. These few measures include:

Understanding An Agent And Using Your Intuition – It’s important to feel out a prospective travel agent to see if you can build a rapport with them. This can be done even when you’re dealing with an Internet agency, through phone calls or e-mails. Face-to-face meetings are not necessary. The choice of right travel agent comes from knowledge, not words. The correct answers to your direct questions are what count. Before you even ask for a price quote, probe the knowledge and personality of the agent you may be putting in charge of your hard-earned vacation. If you get the right feel about this person, you then ask for a price quote. If a travel agent quotes you a price that is not the same as, or lower than the cost of booking directly, or doesn’t offer incentives like free insurance, or even a pre-cruise hotel room, they are choosing not to compete — a choice some agents do make. They hope to attract uneducated consumers. This not the kind of agent we recommend, unless the service is so fantastic you don’t mind missing out on a few perks. But price alone may not always be the best factor to find the right travel agent. We want the best price, but we also want assistance and service when we need it. Hence, when your skull asks this ” How to find the right travel agent”, the above mention criteria should strike you first.

Look For Certification – A right travel agent must be certified from some travel body or institution of his nation. This proves to be more promising or as the elderly travelers say “a certified travel agent is the right travel agent”.

Stay Local And Interview The Agent – There’s no substitute for the personal touch. My best experiences with agents have been one-on-one. The ability to meet – to look the agent in the eye, to shake his or her hand – is something online agencies can’t match. (Note: not all agents work in an office, but home-based agents can and do make personal visits.) The only exception to this rule is if you’re out to find an agent with a sought-after specialty. But even then, a trusted voice on the phone is preferable to the often unintelligible, script-reading customer service associate you’re connected to when dealing with a large agency. Mind this- a professional travel agent makes personal visits. Don’t pick the first agent you find. Talk to the travel pro. Pay close attention not only to the way your prospective agent responds, but also at what’s going on in the office around you.

Pressure Check – The only way to know for certain if your travel agent is a keeper is to see what happens when you run into trouble. A right travel agent would run through your foot steps in trouble. You must conform the services provided by the agent under such circumstances.

Good travel agents have an edge over almost any other seller of travel. They know what you want. They speak your language. And they’re there for you when you run into trouble.
In other words, travel agents aren’t obsolete. Only the bad ones are.

Traveling is something I have always cherished. An expedition offers a blend of countless itineraries ranging from Heritage, culture, tribes, adventure, wildlife and much more.

 

Best Five Places to Stay on a Honeymoon in Egypt

Egypt is known for the role it played in history. It has been a popular country ever since the bygone days of early civilization. With its historical pride, this place is best for honeymooners or life long partners to visit. Why? Mainly because, for the longest period of time, Egypt holds a certain magic for romance which was manifested by the great Ceasar and Cleopatra as lovers. To make the most out of your stay in Egypt, here are the top five places:

1. The Nile Palace, Luxor

Luxor, formerly Thebes the capital of ancient Egypt, a place with brilliant history is the 5th among the top list to visit in this historically rich country. It is also known as “The Open Museum of the World” and the home of the largest temple of Egypt, the Karnak Temple. The best part of all, Nile Palace hotel is strategically located for you to perfectly appreciate how magnificent the city is. Overlooking the shining Nile itself, is the perfect place for setting your mood for romance. The opulent gym will keep you fit and active, and the outdoor pool allows a wide view of the Egyptian sky at daylight and a romantic plunge under the star-lit Egyptian sky at night. Of course the Nile Palace will not be complete without the glamorous restaurant packed with mouth-watering menu that would surely satisfy your hunger. Lastly, the luxurious rooms furnished with fine furniture with stunning lights that will surely make your honeymoon in Egypt romantic and enchanting.

2. Oberoi Philae Cruise on the Nile

Oberoi Philae, the award winning “Best Nile Cruise” in several years in a row is the best mode for exploring the beauty of the Nile. This romantic and luxurious voyage starts at Luxor and travel throughout the Nile which allows you a river view of the impeccable scenery beneath the Nile. The cruise has over 58 elegant suites with fine carpet floorings that would lead you to your room for romance. With balconies and sun loungers, you and your love one will surely enjoy the scenery. The cruise also has a bar and restaurant, a perfect place for socialization with your co tourist, as well as exquisite food offered. Yet indeed, the best way of merging with nature is through river boating, but this is no ordinary boating, this is a luxurious and glamorous tour, a perfect romanticism.

3. Kasr Ibrim, Lake Nasser

For those who have more passion on discovery and console, an elegant and alluring cruise at the calm Lake Nasser is perfectly suited for you. The Kasr Ibrim is a more or less similar to the Philae in luxury. The Kasr Ibrim will tour you to every contours of the scenery along with its archeological treasures. By Kasr Ibrim, your mood will surely rise for sweet romance.

4. The Al Baben Shall, Siwa Oasis

Siwa is the largest oasis in the northwest region of Egypt. It is situated at approximately 9 hours away from Cairo, Egypt. Built using the natural resources available in place, Al Baben Shall is as brown and fine as the sand in the place. It will surely sweep off your feet when sunset comes because you will witness how an infrastructure turns into gold in just a matter of minutes. With the lightings at night, you will surely be fascinated on how a pure brown infrastructure turns into an elegant hotel. The hotel caters delightful regional food, ensuring your stay would be healthy. Indeed a hotel with luxury but in a different style.

5. The Mena House Oberoi, Cairo.

Built under the shadow of the great Pyramid of Giza, this enchanting hotel is somewhat the reality of the Palace in the classic Disney movie Aladin. Since 1869, this century-year- old hotel never fails to fascinate the tourists of Egypt. It is a luxurious hotel that is perfect for honeymooners and tourists due to the fact that this hotel is duly renowned for its exquisite antiques, rich textiles and handcrafted furniture. The hotel, with utmost perfection, has hosted different kinds of personalities across the globe already; ranging from kings, emperors, celebrities and head of state. With the Pyramids giving shade to their pool and the African sky at the backdrop, who would never fall in love with its enchanting mystique? The hotel has 24-hour room and butler services for checked in guests and bars and restaurants to fill up your own taste buds from their mouth watering international and Egyptian cuisines. Considering Mena House Oberoi as a place to stay for your honeymoon, it is safe to say that you’ve made the trip of a lifetime.

Tips to Survive Traveling

Traveling with your partner can be an enriching experience that brings you closer together.

However, being with your significant other 24-7, dealing with challenges like missed flights and getting ripped off or bickering about money can also test the limits of even the strongest relationship.

Here are 8 tips to help you survive traveling with your loved one while keeping your sanity – and union – intact.

1. Pick the right type of holiday

Choosing the right holiday involves more than just picking a place or experience that sounds fun and interesting. If you love to hike but your partner prefers to laze at the beach, booking a trek into the mountains of Peru goes straight into the ‘bad idea’ category.

Talk to your companion and discuss what your travel style is, what you each want to do and then research destination options. Google, read travel blogs, thumb through destination guides and look at Instagram for travel inspiration. You’ll also need to factor in elements like time available, travel distance and of course, budget.

2. Plan together

Once you’ve settled on a location, plan your getaway together. You both need to have input into the decision-making for the trip to be a success.

Put your heads together to figure out important factors like where you will visit (will you city hop or stay in one spot?) and where you will stay (Hotels? Airbnb? Couchsurf?). If one of you is better at finding the best hotel at the right price, for example, leave that responsibility to them. If the other is passionate about food and loves to visit Michelin-star restaurants, he or she can be in charge of your dining plans.

You can also devise a plan based on each of your must-do activities. Compare what you have both come up with and put together an itinerary from there.

3. Set a budget

Money; it’s one of the biggest sources of friction for couples whether they’re traveling or not. Nothing ruins a holiday as quickly as bust-ups over budgets so agreeing on one before leaving home is a good idea.

Be honest about what you can or want to spend. You’ll also both need to decide how you will spend your hard-earned cash.

Are you happy to stay at a cheap hotel or forego fancy restaurants so you can splurge on experiences like a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon? Crunch the numbers together. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to budgeting.

4. Keep your sense of humor

Was your plane delayed? The hotel lost your reservation? Maybe your fancy new phone got swiped at that crowded marketplace or the taxi driver ripped you off? Things don’t always go to plan while traveling.

If it all starts to fall apart, try to keep your sense of humor and don’t take it out on the one you love. Tempers will flare and arguments can happen, but understand that being on the road comes with challenges.

Find a way to laugh about the bad stuff that happens. You’ll end up with a great story to tell your friends and family when you get home.

5. Spend time alone

Traveling with your partner constantly can put a strain on even the strongest relationship, so try not to spend every waking moment together. Whether it’s visiting an art gallery that the other isn’t interested in, or going for a walk or swim, spending time apart is necessary.

Not only does it give you the opportunity to pursue your own interests, it helps prevent frustrations from boiling over which can lead to petty arguments.

A little breather can also make you appreciate each other even more.

6. Be willing to compromise

Like The Rolling Stones once said: You can’t always get what you want.

When it comes to planning an itinerary that includes both your interests, sometimes you will each have to give up a few things, or do some things you’d rather not, to make it work.

Be willing to compromise on your priorities when traveling with your partner, especially if it’s a shorter trip. Both parties need to be satisfied with the itinerary so you’ll have to give in every once in a while, even if you really, really have no interest in that car museum.

7. Use each other’s strengths

Maybe you’re great with a map and your partner is talented at haggling. Or perhaps one of you is good at researching and finding accommodation and the other has a way with languages and communicating with the locals.

We all have our particular strengths. Utilizing and combining them while traveling will not only make you a great traveling team, but help make your trip run more smoothly.

By divvying up the workload, you will each have a particular focus rather than trying to cope with everything at once. Utilizing each other’s strengths will also make up for each other’s weaknesses.

8. Schedule in romance

Travel can often be about rushing from city to city and cramming in museums, art galleries, day trips and more. But have you forgotten about romance?

In between that excursion to the Louvre, Vietnamese cooking class or quad biking adventure past rice fields in Bali, do something special with the one you love.

It could be going for a walk on the beach holding hands, a couple’s massage at a spa or a candlelit dinner featuring your favorite foods and wine, just make sure you schedule in some time for romance with your beau.